Tonight I?ve spent the last couple hours converting a Photoshop image to HTML in Dreamweaver. I read a lot of places where Dreamweaver takes a lot of slack from those who only code in notepad, or who are anti-WYSIWYG editors; personally, I don’t understand this. I started using Dreamweaver back at version 3, before I knew much of anything about HTML. Since then, I’ve never bought a single book on HTML or really sat down to dedicate myself to a couple hours of studying HTML, but I feel I know it as good as most and better than many.
Rather than keeping me away from the code, Dreamweaver has helped me learn it. I’ve almost always used it in the split view where you see both design and code (part out of curiosity, part out of necessity). Being able to see exactly what code is written for every thing I do has helped enormously. I’m a visual thinker, seeing a block of HTML highlighted when I select a table cell helps ingrain in my mind exactly what the code is supposed to look like.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I could feasibly write all the HTML that Dreamweaver writes for me without Dreamweaver, but why would I when I don’t have to? I suppose there’s the argument that it’s more fun that way; and to a point, I’ll agree–sometimes it is more fun. I find however, that when pressed with a deadline, fun is secondary and Dreamweaver helps me get it done faster. I have not had problems with Dreamweaver re-writing my code or re-formatting it (there are settings to control how much, if any, of that it does) and I’ve found that the HTML Dreamweaver writes is generally pretty clean.
Dreamweaver MX 2004 also does a pretty good job with supporting most aspects of CSS. For static sites (do people still make those ;)) the templating system in Dreamweaver is great. Site management is good for that as well (uploading to and from the server, version control etc.) For dynamic sites, I use Dreamweaver to get the basic HTML set and then apply the code.
On the PC, the interface is nothing short of brilliant. Macromedia has steadily improved the UI with each release and with MX 2004, space is utilized almost perfectly. On the Mac, it’s a different story. It doesn’t look bad on a Mac by any means, but you still have the floating panels and you don’t get the tabs to quickly see what you have open & switch between documents.
Needless to say, I’m a fan. I think Macromedia has left very little room for improvement with Dreamweaver MX 2004.